Friday, July 10, 2015

The Smoky Mountains Trip

Here are a few pictures from our trip to the Gatlinburg, Tennessee area last month. 
It really was a fun and relaxing trip. We stayed in the same cabin that we had stayed in two years ago. It is very spacious and clean, and we enjoyed it again.

We did the 8 mile craft loop one day and ate at the Wild (something?) Tea Room. I can't remember the name!  But it was delicious, and the boys were all good sports eating at a fancy tea room!

The other days we spent doing various hikes and the boys each did a blacksmithing class in Pigeon Forge one day. Well actually, Clay did a copper class, and they both had fun!

The children--they are all so tall now!

 The children and the mama

 The whole family---a nice stranger took this picture.

The brave kids on one of the skinny bridges.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

My Poor, Poor Garden

Two weeks ago when I returned home from Rustic Youth Camp, my garden was flourishing!  I picked green beans and canned three quarts (not a lot, I know, but we were traveling back and forth to Corinth frequently to check on Jimmy's daddy, and I knew that they would ruin if I did not put them up). I also had numerous tomatoes--we ate fresh tomatoes every day for a week or so, and I canned 7 pints. One morning I counted the green tomatoes that would be ripe in a week or so, and I counted over 300.


And it was basically ruined.  In about one day.  :(

This is the third year for us to put our garden in this particular spot.  We have deer that live in our woods (we see them all the time), but for some reason this is the first summer that they have discovered my garden and had themselves a little feast!  They ate every. single. pea.  They ate all the green beans. They ate most of the foliage on the tomato plants.  And they ate over half of my green tomatoes.  The ones they didn't eat, they took one bite out of and tossed it to the ground.  They trampled two of my bell pepper plants (I guess they don't like peppers, because they did not eat those plants). The only thing they have not destroyed are my squash and watermelon plants.

I cannot tell you how upset I am about the deer ruining my garden!

Clay ran fishing line at three different heights around the perimeter of the garden, and I sprayed the remaining plants with a gallon of my smelly deer repellent…..but I am afraid that it's all too late.

There are still some tomatoes on my plants, but the plants look pitiful.  Just pitiful. What green leaves the deer did not eat are turning yellow……I am not sure if the plants got too much rain last weekend when we had basically a flood, or that I waited too long to give them nitrogen. I did fertilize them just before the big rain last week….but still.  They look awful.  Not a red tomato in sight, and less than 50 green ones.  However, I did see some new growth on some of the plants this morning.  And I picked 12 green beans.

I'm glad my family is not depending on my garden for our food this winter.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Well. That's a Record

This is the longest I have ever gone without blogging since I began.

So much has been happening.  Some of it mundane. Some of it very stressful. Some of it happy and fun.

The summer is flying by.  We had a restful and enjoyable vacation to the Smoky Mountains.  We hiked almost every day, and our last hike was an 8 mile one!  It took us 6 hours, and at one point I thought I was going to fall off this skinny little board bridge into the raging river below.

Lynn and I (and Leanna too) survived another week long adventure known as Rustic Youth Camp. Lynn and I stayed at Hotel Beulah with our kids who are not old enough for the bunkhouse. Olivia stayed with us too, because she is 20 now, and she was an official teacher at camp! The week was hot and fun. I taught thirty 3rd and 4th graders with five other fabulous ladies.  Lynn tried out a new counselor position this year--cleaning crew.  She got to wipe up spills and clean bathrooms.  I am seriously thinking about signing up for something other than teaching next year.  :)

I've been diligently working on my English class plans.  I am really looking forward to teaching this class for Clay and his friends. The class will meet weekly for two hours for a total of 32 weeks.

Julie is getting ready to go off to college. That's the thing about having your kids two years apart… of them leaves home every other year.  I do have a small gap between Clay and Leah…..then just two years between Leah and Sam. So. Just nine more years of homeschooling left.

Julie is going to the same college as Olivia. They will not be roommates, but they will be living in the same dorm but on different floors.  Both girls are running XC for the school, so they will be spending time together every day. I plan to stay down there a while when I take Julie to get her settled and all. Olivia actually has to return to school one week early for a summer school class that she has been taking online this summer. (And that has been an adventure since we have no internet except for our phones!)

And yes. It will be an adjustment for our family to have both girls away from home.  But I am so happy for them and the opportunities they are having for spiritual, social, and academic growth. I cherish the time we are having all together this summer, and I will completely enjoy the times we have together when they are home for various holidays. I will also call them, text, them, email them, and write them letters on a daily basis. Jimmy and I and the other children also have a few visits planned to see them this fall. I have already bought our plane tickets!

Lynn's family and our family have a short lake house vacation together coming up soon. I am really looking forward to sitting down and doing nothing but visiting and reading a book.

I'm slowly getting my school materials organized and prepared for the upcoming year. I hope to find that Not Back To School Blog Hop and participate in August. That's always fun, and it motivates me to get my act together so I can share it with others. I like reading other people's plans too.

Last thing today.
My running has taken the back burner to life/traveling/visiting/whatever for quite a few months now. I plan to begin anew next Monday with some sort of running plan. My blogging and my running both have been in a slump, and I hope---I really am going to try---to rekindle both.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Summer is Here!

Each year as the summer begins, I like to make a master list of fun things and projects that I hope to accomplish over the short summer break.  Two years ago I wrote this article for The Homeschool Classroom.  It details how I make my summer list (with the kids' input) and how I implement the list. You can click here to read the post.

My list this year includes lots of canning and deep cleaning of my house and garage. Plus next year's school planning, getting Julie all ready to move to college, and doing a few things for Olivia's new (much larger) dorm room too.  Plus a vacation to the Smoky Mountains, Vacation Bible School, Rustic Youth Camp, and maybe even some sewing…..Oh, and I am probably going to teach a high school level English class (very small) for some homeschoolers this fall, so I have lots to plan and prepare for that.

Have fun planning and enjoying your summer!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Some Randomness

  • We finished school today, but we still have a few loose ends to tie up…..Clay needs to complete a works cited page for his research paper and also make his final corrections to this paper.  I am so pleased with his very first research paper.  His topic is Japanese sword making. I have three more chapters to read in Moccasin Trail for Leah, and we have 1.5 chapters left in our Apologia astronomy book (Leah and Sam).  I am really happy that is all we have left.  We tackled two Apologia science books this year:  botany and astronomy.  Next school year we are only doing one--the human body.
  • We almost have all our "spring" yard work completed. Clay will get us more mulch tomorrow to put around our little playground area, and I think that will do it!  We lost count, but Jimmy estimates that we have spread well over 100 bags of mulch. Sam is now an expert mulch spreader, and he has done a few of our flower beds all by himself.
  • Our garden is coming along nicely. It was getting overtaken with grass after several days of rain, so I took it upon myself to hoe up that stubborn grass.  That is back breaking work!  I worked over 2 hours and got only 3 rows done.  The next day Jimmy used our small tiller to get in between the rows, and then all 5 children helped me hoe around the plants.  It looks great!  And my plants are really beginning to grow.  
  • I'm having a small reception for Julie Sunday--for family and friends, and so we have been cleaning the house all day.  Thankfully Olivia, Julie, and Leah are all big helps.  Clay and Sam worked outside most of the day, mowing the grass and mulching flower beds. Leanna helped me with some simple but very cute graduation-themed decorations.
  • I finished reading Alas, Babylon, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!  Olivia and Jimmy have both finished reading it now too.  Currently I am reading The Fellowship of the Ring and Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin. I really like reading.
  • It's that time of year….VBS and RYC (rustic youth camp) preparation!  I am 99% ready for VBS, but I am just beginning to plan and prepare my RYC materials.  I am teaching with ladies that I love to be with, and so we will have a wonderful week.  As usual, Lynn and I are staying at the same house together, so that is fun too!
  • Running…. I am doing well one week, and then not so well the next.  I guess I do need a race on the calendar to motivate to me get the miles in. That is part of what I am learning from the habits book. It's almost easier to do something every day (or 6 days a week), than to do it 3 or 4 days a week. A couple of weeks ago I ran 6 days in one week (resting on Sunday), and while I did not do a large amount of miles each day, I did manage to get 26 miles for the week. This week I have run only 3 days. I'm going for 6 days again next week. 
I think that is all for now.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Bento Bowls

When we were in Japan in Epcot at Disney, the girls and I found the cutest cookbook ever….Bento Boxes.  It had beautiful photographs and recipes for the most fun and precious lunches ever.  I read a little bit about bento boxes when I got home, and I discovered that it is the thing in Japan. Apparently, Japanese mothers spend lots of time creating these lunches for their children to take to school each day. The foods are cut into all kinds of shapes and even fashioned to resemble animals!

When we got home, I ordered two bento box cookbooks--the one I saw at Disney as well as another one with recipes for adult lunches.

I have not tackled making a bento box.  I could tell that it takes a good bit of time, and our lunches are usually whatever you can find in the refrigerator or pantry.

But Olivia decided to tackle the bento box lunch.  Except that we don't have any cute Bento boxes, so she used my cute Fiestaware bowls.  

Olivia spent about two and a half hours this morning creating six beautiful and delicious bento bowl lunches from scratch!  

A labor of love.

And it was a fantastic lunch!  Just fantastic!

a boiled egg cut in a tulip shape
brown rice
sesame spinach (so yummy!)
homemade "pickles"--cucumbers in flower shapes with vinegar, etc.
homemade sushi!
and various fruit cut in fun shapes

Isn't this the most precious lunch?

Monday, May 11, 2015

A Good Monday

We have had a good, productive day.  We have only 6 more days of school for this school year!  Hooray!  Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, and Tuesday-Friday of the next.  We are celebrating Olivia's 20th birthday on Thursday.  Her birthday was back in April while she was still at college.  She asked if we could have a family celebration when she came home, and this Thursday is the first day that Jimmy is off this month. So.  A birthday party on Thursday!  :)

Kelly is taking his four children and my three youngest on a little road trip to Florida this Friday-Monday.  Fun!  Lynn and I are going to a homeschool conference Friday.  We plan to attend a few of the meetings, browse the vendor booths, and enjoy a meal or two together.  Mostly, we plan to just enjoy one another's company and have fun.

After school was finished for the day I read Alas, Babylon for 30 minutes before I went to town to run a few errands.  I asked Leah if she wanted to go to the library after her piano lesson.  Believe it or not, it has been about a year or more since we went to the library!  It is not convenient for me to go on a regular basis (it's about 15 minutes away, and nowhere near anywhere else I regularly go).  Leah asked me if she could get her own library card, and so we did!  We got one for Sam too.  She checked out eight biographies of various people.  I added a random fiction book for her and a large print copy of  Alice in Wonderland for me to read.

Also today Olivia and Julie shopped for ingredients and supplies and spent the afternoon making a coffee chocolate cheesecake for me--as part of my Mother's Day celebration.  It has to chill overnight (after baking for one hour), and so we will enjoy its deliciousness tomorrow night after supper.  I. Can't. Wait.
While I was visiting some of Olivia's friends while I was packing her up to move her home, Tom made the most delicious coffee cheesecake ever.  I guess I talked a lot about how yummy that cheesecake was, since Olivia and Julie are making one for me.

Today was a good day…..running this morning, laundry and school and cooking throughout the day (with lots of help from my girls), reading Sonlight books to Leah and Sam outside in the beautiful sunshine….watching Jimmy spray the garden, riding on the lawn mower with him for a few minutes…..the children crafting, and singing, and flipping around….

I am so thankful for my family.  I love being a mother.

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Garden

Well.  I planted my garden a few weeks ago.  I kept waiting for an opportunity to get it in the ground, but we had SO MUCH RAIN in March and April, that every time Jimmy tilled it, it rained for days, and I could not plant anything.  Finally, I had a window of sunshine.

Jimmy expanded my garden size this year.  It is 30 feet by 30 feet.  Not too terribly big, but the biggest garden I have had.  It has 10 rows.  I planted 4 rows of tomatoes, 40 plants in all.  I will be canning tons of tomatoes this July!  I planted 4 bell pepper plants too. The rest of the things I planted were from seeds:  cantaloupe, watermelon, cucumbers, squash, lettuce, crowder peas, and green beans.  I did not label my rows, and so except for the tomatoes and peppers, I was a little unsure of what was on each row for a while.  I tried to remember and write it down on my garden chart when I got to the house, but I got a little mixed up.  Surprise!  That's what I will have when the plants start growing.  I have figured out which plants are the green beans and squash.  A few seeds still had not sprouted earlier this week, so I replanted a few things.  Who knows what all will come up and where in a few weeks!  I am sure I will need to thin out some of my plants when everything sprouts.

In addition to canning tomatoes, I also hope to have enough peas and green beans to can as well.  We will see!

I am so happy to have Olivia home!  She and Julie and Leah too, when she is not doing school, are crafting like crazy!  We gave Julie a sewing machine for a graduation present, and she and Olivia have their sewing machines set up in our school room.  Julie has already begun piecing a quilt.

Leah, Sam, and Clay have just two more weeks of school!  Then let the summer fun begin!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Last Track Meet

This is the first spring that the Spartan Homeschool Team has participated in a full season of track meets.  They ran in 6 or 7 (I can't remember) meets in all.  It was so much fun!  We ran a meet with 22 other schools (and got home at 1:00 AM) and a meet with 3 schools (tonight, and got home at 10:00 PM--Yay!), and various sized meets in between.  All of our track meets have been in Tennessee because Mississippi public schools (and private schools that are part of the public school athletic association) do not allow our homeschool team to compete in their running events--both cross country and track.  So……we travel!  We pack picnic suppers and lots of drinks and snacks.  They runners and their siblings have enjoyed the fellowship so much.  And so have the parents.  It's been a great season!  Many personal records were set in various distances. I was a little sad that tonight was the last meet of our season.

Sam bought a ukelele with money he had in his savings.  A Ukelele!  I have no idea why he wanted one, but it came in today, and he took it to the track meet.  One of the older runners helped him tune it, and he is already making a little melody.  However, I  foresee his practice time being mostly outside.

I have a new book about teaching literature using the Socratic method.  It's called Reading Roadmaps by Adam and Missy Andrews.  I used Adam Andrew's Teaching the Classics course with Clay earlier this school year, and I really liked it. This summer I hope to pull together a literature/composition course for Clay's 11th grade year.  I will study Reading Roadmaps, the American history booklist from Notgrass curriculum, and the books from Core 100 in Sonlight.  I plan to choose 8 of these books for Clay to read over the school year.  Some of the books will also have accompanying writing assignments.  I am excited about formulating this plan.

Now that I am sort of back in the habit of posting regularly (3 days in a row!), I keep thinking of so many things I want to write about.

I hope to be back tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

A Beginning Running Plan

My cousin-in-law (is that even such a thing?? Season is Jimmy's first cousin….) asked me to help her get back into running.  She had a new baby recently, and now she is ready to get back into shape.  I told her that I had written a couple of blog posts in the past about starting to run, and that I would find a post and share it again.

Here it is! Originally written in 2013.

I have read many "beginning runner" type articles in magazines, in books, and online. Recently I found my favorite one of all. It is found in the January/February  2010 issue of Women's Running magazine. Most of the other plans I have seen start off fine, but after a few weeks, they seem to make too big of a jump in the routine. This plan gradually takes you from walking only to only running--over the course of 15 -18 weeks.

If regular exercise is one of your New Year's Resolutions, then I encourage you to follow this plan. All you need is a pair of running shoes and some good socks (not 100% cotton). You don't need a special place to walk/ can run up and down your driveway, around your block, in your subdivision, at your local walking track, on a treadmill, etc. One of the contestants of The Biggest Loser (I think this was in 2009) trained for a marathon (26.2 miles) by running from her front porch to her mailbox....over and over again!

Here's the plan!

Weeks 1-2: walk 30-40 minutes, 3-4 times a week
Begin each week's workout with a brisk 5 minute walk to warm-up
Weeks 3-4: Alternate 1 minute running/3 minutes walking, 7 times
Weeks 5-6: Alternate 2 minutes running/3 minutes walking, 6 times
Weeks 7-8: Alternate 3 minutes running/3 minutes walking, 5 times
Weeks 9-10: Alternate 3 minutes running/2 minutes walking, 6 times
Weeks 11-12: Alternate 4 minutes running/2 minutes walking, 5 times
Weeks 13-14: Alternate 4 minutes running/1 minute walking, 6 times
Weeks 15-16: Alternate 5 minutes running/ 1 minute walking, 5 times

After this, every two weeks add one more minute to your running time until you are running 10 minutes/walking 1 minute. You can eventually build up to continuous 30 minutes of running with no walk breaks, but if walking one minute after running 8-10 minutes helps, continue indefinitely!  When I ran my first half marathon, I walked a minute every mile, which was about equal to running 10 minutes/walking 1 minute. I also trained this way for my first marathon.  For my second marathon, I trained running 1 mile and walking 30 seconds.  For my third marathon (Disney), I trained running 1 mile and walking 1 minute.  For my next marathon training, I trained running the first 3 miles, and then walking for 1 minute after every 2 miles. Since I have been running for 8 years now, I can run shorter distances of 6-7 miles and less without any walk breaks, but anytime I am running longer than 7, I take the walk breaks.  It really makes a difference!

Actually now (now--May 2015) when I am doing long runs, I take a 45 second walk break after every two miles. 

The important thing to remember is to try to enjoy the run!  You should be running at a pace that you can talk to someone running beside you.  That's what makes it fun! If you are new to running, I encourage you to find a 5K race in your area.  It is a lot of fun to run a race!  Try to find a friend to sign up, train, and run with you, but even if you can't find someone to run with, try it alone.  You will feel such a sense of accomplishment when you cross the finish line.  And you will probably get a cool t-shirt!

I hope this plan works for some of you.

Happy Running!

p.s.  I am not a doctor or any kind of health care professional.  Please use your common sense when beginning to exercise, and seek professional help if you have any questions/concerns/injuries, etc.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Back to the Blog

As my 7 year blog anniversary approaches, I figured I better get back to blogging!

I also need to update my profile picture......I certainly have more gray hair than that picture shows.

So what all has been going on in the last month?

  • Olivia turned 20, and is home from college for the summer. I flew down there last Monday, cleaned out her dorm room and packed her up, and we drove all the way home on Thursday.
  • Julie graduated from the Johnson Homeschool last Friday night. We had 24 graduates in our local homeschool organization, and the ceremony was really nice and special.
  • I have taken the children to three track meets--one that was run well and ended at a respectable time, and two (same location) that lasted SO LONG that we got home a little before 1 AM each time! We actually have one more track meet this week at that same location. I can't wait. (just kidding). Watching my kids and their friends is lots of fun. Driving home when I am worn out....not so much fun.
  • We had our Keepers At Home end of the year dinner and pin awarding night. Leah earned several pins including laundry, cookie baking, etiquette, and patience. I forgot to order her a pin for general Bible memory, which is pretty important because she has learned a ton of Bible verses (one per week).
  • Jim (my father-in-law) finished his 6th chemo treatment yesterday. I haven't blogged about it, but he was diagnosed with cancer of the bile duct back in January. He has been in the hospital here in Tupelo a few times for various treatments, procedures, and surgeries, but he will be going to St. Louis later this month for further evaluation and treatment. His attitude has been super! We are all fervently praying for him and for Jimmy's mama too as they go through this trial.
  • Megan and Russ (and Millie Janalee and Smith) are moving 20 MINUTES AWAY FROM ME next month! Isn't that great?
  • I have read a few really good books recently, and I am currently reading a couple of more interesting, thought-provoking ones. I plan to share about all of them soon.
  • And. I hope to get back into the habit of blogging.......

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Leah's Room Makeover

About a month ago, my mother, the master decorator, completed a makeover of Leah's room.  Leah was a baby when we built this house, and her room was still decorated with her nursery-looking fabric. I loved it, (the walls were pale pink, and the ceiling was a light green), but she had outgrown the look.

 I am not one to change things, and except for moving the boys around from room to room (Sam was not born when we built this house, so he when he was born, he stayed in our bedroom until we was about 2 1/2. At that point I moved him into what was then our "playroom" and put Clay in the room with him…..we used Clay's previous bedroom for a sewing/craft room.  A few years later, I moved my sewing room to my basement, and I put Clay back in his old room), all of my house looks just like it did when we moved in over 10 years ago.

So. This was a major room makeover, complete with painting of the walls, ceiling, and furniture.

I have a few pictures of the (almost) finished room.  It is so pretty!  Leah wanted turquoise walls, so that was the driving force in selecting fabric, and room decor.  My mother did every single thing.  She even painted and stained the furniture.  She did all of the sewing including the drapes and bedding.  She shopped for the lamps and accessories.

I still lack a few finishing touches:  I need to buy a bulletin board to hand above Leah's desk, I have some pink trim to glue on the lamps on her dresser, and my mother is making a chair cushion and back for a chair for her desk.  Also in the pictures, the drawer pulls are not on the dresser or nightstand.  I have them on there now.

One more thing…. these pictures were taken right when we finished, but before Leah put her toys, books, treasures, etc., back in the room.  It is still beautiful, but it now has that "lived in" look.  :)

 There is now a metal wall hanging above the dresser.

 This is where I plan to hang a bulletin board.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Disney Group 2015: The Running

The last Disney vacation blog post! (from this year, anyway!)

Of our group of 32 Disney vacationers, 10 of us participated in the Run Disney Weekend……Lynn, Leanna, Stacee, Kendra, Olivia, Julie, Clay, and I ran only the Half Marathon.  Jimmy and Esther ran the DOPEY CHALLENGE.  Which is a 5K, 10K, Half-Marathon, and Marathon, one race each day, 4 days in a row.  Truly a DOPEY CHALLENGE.  :)

One of the hardest parts of racing at Disney is getting up at 2:30 in the morning!  You have to get up that early to get on the bus that drives you to the race starting area.  Well, then you have to walk a mile or so to the starting line….anyway, you can imagine how tired Jimmy and Esther were after getting up that early 4 days in a row.  Plus going to the parks all day!  

Jimmy and Esther did great in all four of their races.  They ran the Half Marathon with us, and we had lots of fun!  

Here are some pictures… no particular order.

 Massive firework display at the beginning of every corral (all 22 of them)

 Clay, Me, and Lynn in the Magic Kingdom
(Lynn and I wore matching outfits, and Leanna and Stacee matched as well.  We all four had the same shirt).

 Leanna and Stacee in front of Cinderella's castle

 Lynn, Kendra (tinkerbell), Olivia (Belle), Julie (Rapunzel), Me, Clay, and Jimmy

 Me and Jimmy

 Don't let that train run over you!

 Julie, Clay, and Olivia at Epcot

 All finished!
Olivia said she has never been so exhausted after running so slow!  Ha!
She stayed with Lynn and me, and we all stopped many, many times to take pictures and just enjoy the experience.

 Lynn--all finished!  Yay!

 Olivia, Me, Julie, and Clay
The finishers medal are so nice!
Jimmy and Esther got 6 medals in all--one each for the 5K, 10K, Half-Marathon, and Marathon, the Goofy Challenge (completing the half and full marathon), and the Dopey Challenge (completing all 4 races).  They also got 6 shirts!

 The whole crew posing mid-race outside our hotel. We ran right by our hotel.
Esther is dressed as Dopey.

 Kendra and Olivia

The whole crew, minus Jimmy (taking the picture), about 3:00 AM!  This is just before we got on the bus. 

We are all crazy.
But it was really a lot of fun!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Road Trip With a Surprise

Well, here I am again.  Sitting here on my couch with my laptop (and my phone being used as a hotspot) composing a blog post.

Almost two weeks ago my four younger children, plus Parker (Lynn's oldest son who is Clay's age) and I left at 8:20 PM on a Thursday night (after the children's piano recital), bound for Florida.

When Olivia left to go back to college after her spring break, she was a little sad that it would be 8 weeks before she could come home.  And of course that is a long time for us too!  Not long after I took her to the airport to fly back, Jimmy and I formulated a plan.  The kids and I (plus Parker) would drive down there and SURPRISE Olivia with a long weekend visit! :)  We were all so excited and talked about it until the day arrived for us to leave.

We drove until about 1:00 AM Thursday night, stayed in a hotel (briefly), and got back on the road about 7:00 AM.  We were on schedule to arrive at Olivia's school around 3:00 PM, just in time for my older children and Parker to run with Olivia's cross country team during their 4:00 practice.

Unfortunately, the last 58 miles of the trip took us almost 3 hours!  I think we traveled 9 miles in one of those hours.  It was a major traffic jam!  And so we drove up on campus just as the runners were finishing their practice--we saw Olivia!  But she did not see us!  I parked and we were waiting as she and her friends ran to the meeting spot.  SURPRISE!  Yes!  She was completely surprised!  It was great!

We spent the weekend participating in a few campus activities (concert, singing, talent show) plus lots of time just visiting with Olivia.  We took her out to eat and to see the movie, Cinderella. I bought some groceries and supplies for her, and we spent a good bit of time with her church family.  They are all so kind and hospitable.  I truly appreciate the good care they are taking care of Olivia. Julie stayed in the dorm with Olivia, and the other children and I stayed in the hotel I always stay in while I am visiting Olivia, packing her up, or moving her in.  The staff there remembers my family and me, and they are always so nice to us.

We left that Monday morning at 10:20 AM (we wanted to wait and see Olivia between her classes to say our goodbyes.)  We drove all the way home, arriving at 10:00 PM.  We stopped only 5 times for coffee, gas, bathroom breaks and 2 meals.  Each stop was 15 minutes or less.  We listened to The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs (one of Leah's Sonlight books) on audio, and on the way down there we had a Toy Story marathon.  They kids watched (and I listened to) Toy Story 1, 2, and 3.  Coming home they watched Big Hero Six, Annie, and one other movie that I can't remember.  It really wasn't that bad of a drive.

And it was so worth it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Warmer Weather

Finally.  Sunshine!

I sat outside yesterday while eating my quick lunch so I could soak up a few rays from the sun.  I think we will be doing our Sonlight reading outside soon.  (We have been reading our Sonlight books at night for various reasons).

Jimmy is tilling up our garden site right now.  I think I missed the opportunity to plant potatoes, but I plan to plant tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers, and squash. This year I will plant enough green beans to hopefully can for the fall/winter.  I have only 3 jars of tomatoes left from last year's crop.  I would have run out sooner, but I have bought some canned tomatoes at the store in order to save my last few jars.  If we have soup one more time this spring, I will use the remaining jars.  We have also eaten all but three or four jars of the beans I canned last July.  I have plenty of dried beans (chickpeas, pintos and black) to can again, I just have not set aside the time for the task.

The kids and I both have spring fever with this warmer weather.  No one wants to do school!  We want to be outside.  The kids are roller-blading, swinging, riding their bikes, and romping in the woods.  I want to plant my garden, trim my shrubs and monkey grass, clean out the flower beds and spread the one hundred bags of mulch Jimmy bought last weekend.  However, we are still doing our schoolwork. And when I am home in the afternoons, we will do our Sonlight reading outside in the lovely sunshine.

We have a few 5K and 10K races planned for March, April, and May.  Also Julie will be graduating on May 1, and I will be bringing Olivia home from college at the very end of April.  The other three children will continue their schoolwork until the Friday before Memorial Day.  Then summer break will begin!  Yay!  I plan to continue some Sonlight reading throughout the summer, but we will see if I actually do it.  :)

Happy Spring!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Just Jumping Back In

Well. I am back after another hiatus. 
Between having to use my cellphone as a hotspot for internet, Olivia being home for a week for spring break, watching my mother redecorate Leah's room, enjoying another spell of ice, and spending time with my father-in-law, I have not really thought much about my blog.  Except that people periodically ask Jimmy about it.  And I ran into a blog reader at Kroger yesterday……I miss sharing with y'all!  (If anyone out there is still reading!)

While Olivia was home for spring break it was about zero degrees (I exaggerate, of course), and we had an ice storm.  Our whole town shut down for the second time in one week.  We spent a good bit of time outside in the frigid temperature and did some sledding.  On the ice!  It really was a lot of fun, and we took about thirty short videos of all of us slipping and sliding down our hills.  

 The Mama and the Daddy

 Julie, Leah, and Olivia

 Clay, Leah, and Olivia

The woods didn't look as pretty as they did the week before with all the snow, but it was still beautiful. And fun.  And cold!

Clay made a new welded metal tree for me last week.  This one replaces the one he made me last year for Mother's Day.  It is shorter and a little bit narrower, so it fits on our kitchen table better.  He really is an artist, if I say so myself.  :)  He also made a bird for his aunt Jenny for her birthday--he and Jenny share a birthday at the end of this month, and he made a couple of other things during his spring break too.  A sort of robot thing and a dinosaur looking creature.  Like I said.  Metal art.  Unique.

If you look closely at this picture of my kitchen table, you can tell that it is shiny and has a map on it…..When my mother decorated for Leah's birthday party in January, she used clear vinyl to cover the cute fabric for the tablecloth.  I kept the clear vinyl and place several different maps underneath.  I had heard of doing this before, but I had never tried it myself.  We love it!  I have changed what's underneath the clear covering a few times since January.  Currently we have a large U.S. map with all the major interstates marked, a Mississippi map, and lots of president facts and information cards. We have also enjoyed looking at a U.S. map marking all the national parks and a simple world map.  Sam requested a map of Italy, and I bought one on Friday. I will put it at his place once he has learned about some of the presidents.  :)  These maps and cards are definitely conversation starters, and we are all learning so much in a fun way.

Until next time….(and I hope it won't be too long)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

More Winter Weather and the Internet

We had another winter storm event last night!  We had sleet/freezing rain throughout the night, and we awoke to a coating of white---ICE!  It is pretty, but not as pretty as the snow last week.  Jimmy, Leah, and Sam are outside right now sledding on our frozen driveway!

Well.  For over two weeks now we have been without any internet service except for our cell phones!  Our HughesNet modem died, and when I called to inquire about a replacement or repair, the nice lady from India informed me that our equipment was out of date, and that our only option was to upgrade and sign a 2 year commitment.  Of course.

I was not interested in the upgrade or the 2 year commitment.  I am waiting, waiting, waiting for some kind of high speed internet service that is not satellite to come to my area. The upgrade provided less daily allowance of megabites than we already get (500MB a day, in case you are wondering), for about $10 less per month.  Anyway, we are just using our cell phones as hotspots when we need internet……so who knows how much blogging I will get around to doing.

Our spring break has not been too spring-like, but we are definitely enjoying our time with Olivia.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Big Snow

My children woke up yesterday eagerly anticipating the snowfall that our weather man had predicted.  Schools and some businesses were closed in anticipation of the snowstorm.  I must admit that I was a little skeptical!  It has been SO COLD here lately, and while I welcomed the possibility of snow to make the cold at least pretty and fun, I really doubted we would get more than a dusting. (Like always). It just rarely comes a big snow here in the part of Mississippi we live in. 

The kids and I kept looking out the windows all yesterday morning.  We kept checking the weather forecast on my phone.  We even turned on our TV at noon to see the local weather……

Well.  Finally it began snowing!  (I can't remember what time…..)

And it snowed and snowed and snowed. 

My kids had a ball. And so did everyone else in our neck of the woods.  Before it was all over, we had 7 inches in our yard.  :)  7 inches!  That's a Mississippi blizzard!  It snowed for hours and hours…..

The kids ate bowls and bowls of snow ice cream.  Sam ate snow right out of the yard.  Leah and I built a tiny little snowman (I was too cold to build any bigger). All four children went sledding for hours. Jimmy had worked all night Tuesday, so he came home and slept Wednesday during the blizzard, but he and the kids were up bright and early this morning to play before it started melting around 10:00. 
I stayed indoors this morning and cooked a big breakfast for them.  I also spent most of my time yesterday and today drying clothes, wiping up water, and serving hot drinks.

Here are some highlights.

 looking down our driveway

 Leah, Julie, Clay, and Sam
ready to sled

 Clay and Sam

 not sure……looking for a place to sled?  taking a break?

 There goes Clay, down the hill.

 Julie giving Leah a push to get started

Licking snow.

 standing in front of our Dr. Seuss tree
See it leaning to the left?

 out in front of our house, around the barn

 Julie and Sam

 Leah with her sled

 lying in the snow…
not sure why?

 another picture in front of our property

Snow on the beautiful lantern/light that Jimmy hung for us recently. He made the wooden thing that it's hanging on and did all the wiring.

 our backyard

 a tree near our house

 kids playing in the woods


 Pokey, Clay, and Sam crossing a bridge.

 Sweet sisters

 Cool Sam

 This is when the snow first started falling.

 Sam, eating snow again!


 Pokey and Clay

 Me, smallish snowman, and Leah

7 inches!

A Mississippi Blizzard!
Fun! Fun! Fun!